Position to disposition: School-based roles and responsibilities in shaping agents dispositions

Year: 2017

Author: Quinlivan, Kathleen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The purpose of this study was to explore the complexity of the enactment of the Australian national curriculum at school level using Bourdieu's field analysis. This is a case study of one state high school in Brisbane, Australia, where the school management team and teachers involved in the enactment process of the curriculum were interviewed. Bourdieu's methodology suggests to analyse the position of the institution vis-a-vis the field of power and also the position of agents within the field in order to highlight the objective structure which shapes the subjective dispositions. In any social field, Bourdieu believed that agents occupy relational social spaces that produce in them particular ways of thinking, being and doing or dispositions. Such dispositions as part of the agents' habitus are believed to be the product of the conditions. However, this paper reveals that regardless of the existing conditions and diverse habitus; the roles that agents played in the enactment process had a substantial influence on their position-taking and position-taking strategies. This paper presents the interviews of three deputy principals, who despite holding the same position, working under the same conditions and holding almost equal power and authority; displayed very diverse perspectives to the enactment process. This is partly because of their different roles and responsibilities assigned to them in enacting the curriculum. By locating the relationship of their official responsibilities to their disposition, this empirical research contributes to Bourdieu's field theory.